96 Foreign Aff. 30 (2017)
The Case for Trump's Foreign Policy: The Right People, the Right Positions

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The Case for

Trump's Foreign

Policy

The   Right   People,   the  Right
Positions

Matthew Kroenig
Media coverage of U.S. Presi-
          dent Donald Trump's foreign
          policy has been overwhelm-
ingly negative. Analysts have seized on
early policy missteps, a supposed slow-
ness in staffing the national security
bureaucracy, and controversial statements
and actions as evidence that Trump's
foreign policy is already failing.
   But the critics have gotten a lot wrong
and failed to give credit where credit is
due. The Trump administration has left
behind the rhetoric of the campaign trail
and has begun to adopt foreign policies
that are, for the most part, well suited to
the challenges ahead. Trump inherited a
crumbling  international order from
President Barack Obama,  but he has
assembled a highly capable national secu-
rity team to help him update and revital-
ize it. Many of the controversial foreign
policy statements that Trump has made
as president have, in fact, been consistent
with established U.S. policy. Where he
has broken with tradition, it has often
been to embrace much-needed change.

MATTHEW   KROENIG  is Associate Professor of
Government and Foreign Service at Georgetown
University and a Senior Fellow at the Brent
Scowcroft Center on International Security at the
Atlantic Council. Follow him on Twitter @kroenig.


   It is too early to pass definitive judg-
ment on the Trump  administration. But
its rapid improvement, combined with
Trump's own willingness to take bold
action, suggests that former Secretary
of State Henry Kissinger may have been
right when he told CBS News last Decem-
ber that Trump's presidency could
present an extraordinary opportunity
for U.S. foreign policy.

TRUMP'S   INHERITANCE
To gauge the success of a president's
foreign policy, it helps to examine the
record of his immediate predecessor.
Here, the Trump administration has a
low bar to clear. In Europe, Asia, and
the Middle East, Obama left behind a
far more dangerous world than the one
he inherited in 2009.
   For the first time since World War II,
Russia is redrawing the map of Europe
at gunpoint. Meeting only a weak
response from the West, Russian
President Vladimir Putin continues to
threaten and undermine the United
States and its NATO allies in a bid to
break the alliance.
   In Asia, the picture is little better.
China  has seized contested territory
from U.S. allies and is undertaking a
massive military buildup that the
country's leaders hope will eventually
render the United States unable to
keep its security commitments in the
Asia-Pacific. The Obama administra-
tion's policy of strategic patience
with North Korea  was a euphemism
for standing idly by as threats gath-
ered. According to expert estimates,
Pyongyang  now  has up to 21 warheads
and is on track to have nuclear mis-
siles that could hit the continental
United States.


30    FOREIGN   AFFAIRS

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